Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. On sleeping giants
Sunday pop quiz: What program do you consider the biggest potential sleeping giant in college football?— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) July 10, 2016
On Twitter this past weekend, I asked people about sleeping giants, and it resulted in two conclusions I kind of expected:
1. Everybody's a sleeping giant. Nearly half of FBS (54 of 128 teams) got at least one vote. We all think our program is just one hire away from greatness. We might be right if that hire is Bill Snyder-caliber. But most aren't. Still, this is the college football dream.
2. North Carolina and Maryland got the most votes. We all have our definition of "sleeping giants," and mine doesn't include teams that have actually been giants recently. (So no Miami, no Texas, no Michigan, etc.) We know they can be giants, and to me the "sleeping giants" moniker is about who else could become one.
Because of geography and shoe money, Maryland fans can talk themselves into having a solid "sleeping giant" case. The Terrapins are located near all sorts of top-tier talent in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, etc. It's the talent that Penn State, Virginia Tech, and others have brought in while winning tons of games in recent decades. It rarely chooses the Terrapins. But if it did...
Meanwhile, Maryland has been called the "next Oregon" for a while, because Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is a Maryland grad and one-time Maryland walk-on. The Terps have become the UA guinea pig in the same way that Oregon has for Nike.
The main difference between Oregon and Maryland: Oregon has made four good coaching hires in a row. Maryland's current streak stands at zero.
Ralph Friedgen wasn't sexy enough, basically. He wasn't the kind of ace recruiter or dynamic presence that Maryland's new administration envisioned leading the Terps through an Under Armour age. You can disagree with that sentiment -- it certainly felt off-putting to watch Maryland dump a coach while he was going 9-4 at Maryland, but it's a sentiment. And if the school had made a good replacement hire, then it would have been alright.
Randy Edsall wasn't a terrible hire. He recruited reasonably well (considering the results, anyway), and despite getting obliterated by injury, he managed to take Maryland to bowls in his third and fourth seasons in charge. But he seemed to be laying groundwork on which he could never quite capitalize. And if you're going to replace a solid coach because he didn't recruit well enough or create a high enough ceiling, then you should bring in someone who actually can.
Regardless, the five-year Edsall experiment is over. And in theory, Maryland might have just made the high-ceiling hire it meant to make in 2011.
DJ Durkin has one hell of a pedigree at this point. A graduate assistant on Urban Meyer's Bowling Green teams, he ended up catching a big break by landing on Jim Harbaugh's Stanford staff (as defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator) in 2007. Harbaugh sought to build a staff of young, hungry competitors, and Durkin fit the bill.
After three years at Stanford, Durkin moved east to Florida to join Meyer's staff in 2010, then stayed aboard when Will Muschamp took over. He spent 2013-14 as UF's defensive coordinator, then took over as Harbaugh's DC in 2015 at Michigan.
Durkin has extensive experience under both of the marquee coaching names in the Big Ten East, and he has put together a fascinating staff, with a layer of seasoned hands (former Virginia head coach Mike London, former Ball State head coach Pete Lembo, former Stanford assistant Andy Buh, 35-year offensive line coach Dave Borbely) and a layer of young-and-hungries.
Early on, the staff is making a splash: Per the 247Sports Composite, the Terps currently have one five-star commitment and four four-stars, and despite having only 11 commits, they are 20th in the summer recruiting rankings.
Now, one of the reasons I only pay marginal attention to recruiting at this stage in the cycle is that a) commitments are obviously not binding just yet, and b) it takes more than one good recruiting class to see results. There's a tricky balance here -- building a winner at a program like Maryland requires a coaching staff that can both recruit and capitalize on the talent at hand while that recruiting is ongoing. If you don't win quickly, you won't continue to recruit well. Just ask Mark Stoops at Kentucky, who nailed the first year or two on the job but is just 12-24 after three years.
Still, in building this staff the way he did, Durkin clearly understands that balance. His assistants are a mix of young and old, tactically proven and experimental. Durkin is trying to stick the landing. Maybe he won't; maybe this chemistry experiment will explode. (They often do.) Or maybe he is exactly the hire Maryland was looking for in the quest to become the New Oregon.
|Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 6-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 76 | Final S&P+ Rk: 65|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|26-Sep||at West Virginia||31||6-45||L||11%||0%||-19.8||-22.0|
|10-Oct||at Ohio State||3||28-49||L||46%||1%||-3.1||+12.0|
|24-Oct||vs. Penn State||47||30-31||L||68%||45%||+13.8||+5.5|
|14-Nov||at Michigan State||9||7-24||L||29%||1%||-3.4||-2.0|
|Points Per Game||24.7||95||34.4||103|
2. Rolling a boulder up a hill
Edsall could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He had scored a commitment from blue-chip quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and Haskins was busy trying to help recruit other big-name future Turtles. All Edsall had to do was win just enough to keep his job until 2016, then watch a new set of high-ceiling youngsters begin to take over the program.
The season started off reasonably well. Maryland looked the part in disposing of Richmond and a USF team that was much better than we realized at the time; a loss to Bowling Green made it harder to craft a path to six wins, but if they kept playing like they did against USF, a few more wins would probably show up.
One more win showed up.
- First 3 games: Record: 2-1 | Average percentile performance: 79% (~top 25)
- Next 3 games: Record: 0-3 | Average percentile performance: 24% (~top 95)
- Next 3 games: Record: 0-3 | Average percentile performance: 61% (~top 50)
- Last 3 games: Record: 1-2 | Average percentile performance: 44% (~top 70)
The schedule handed Maryland consecutive games against West Virginia (which was smoking hot at the time), Michigan, and Ohio State. The Terps got outscored, 122-34, and Edsall was canned.
Maryland bounced back with solid (and ultimately unsuccessful) showings against Penn State and Wisconsin; then came another couple of duds against Michigan State and Indiana. The season was like pushing a boulder up a hill -- making a little bit of progress, tripping and getting flattened, then starting the process all over again.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||35.5%||116||Succ. Rt. +||96.0||89|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||33.8||121||Def. FP+||30.7||92|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||3.9||112||Redzone S&P+||92.0||105|
|Q1 Rk||34||1st Down Rk||64|
|Q2 Rk||114||2nd Down Rk||94|
|Q3 Rk||77||3rd Down Rk||41|
3. A Walt Bell offense
Credit Maryland quarterbacks for one thing: They threw the softest, most catchable interceptions in the country last year. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe combined for an astounding 28 interceptions in only 345 passes last year. Whereas most quarterbacks end up with an interception rate somewhere between about 1.5 and four percent, theirs was 8.1 percent.
That's really hard to do ... unintentionally, at least. And it's probably unsustainable. Whereas interceptions typically make up about 21-23 percent of all passes defensed (INTs + breakups), for Maryland it was 39 percent. Having 75 passes defensed is far too many, but it probably should have resulted in about 17 interceptions, not the team total of 29. This was the primary reason why UMD's turnover luck (minus-4.6 points per game) was the second-worst in the country.
Maryland was unlucky, but the Terps also shouldn't have been throwing so damn much. They had one of the best, most explosive run games in the country: Not including sacks, Hills and Rowe combined to average 7.1 yards per carry, while running backs Brandon Ross, Wes Brown, and Ty Johnson averaged 5.9. Meanwhile, even ignoring the INTs, Hills/Rowe averaged 4.9 yards per pass attempt. And yet, Maryland threw more frequently than the national average on standard downs. Even at the time, this didn't make sense.
That's probably not a mistake new offensive coordinator Walt Bell is going to make. He spent the last two years as Arkansas State's offensive coordinator, and let's just say that ASU's offensive approach in 2015 would have fit Maryland's personnel quite a bit better. The Red Wolves ran 68 percent of the time on standard downs and 42 percent of the time on passing downs. They established a high tempo and a strong, exciting, dual-threat run game. They couldn't really pass any better than Maryland, but they also played to their strengths.
You do still have to pass occasionally, and the fact that neither Hills nor Rowe can do it particularly well could open the door for a newcomer this fall (incoming freshman Tyrrell Pigrome certainly fits the bill athletically, though he might not be any better with his arm). But even if Maryland is doomed to struggle through the air again in 2016, Bell will still probably do a better job of riding with the strengths the Terps have.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Perry Hills||6'2, 210||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8540||90||180||1001||8||13||50.0%||17||8.6%||4.6|
|Caleb Rowe||6'3, 220||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8475||76||165||894||6||15||46.1%||0||0.0%||5.4|
|Gage Shaffer||6'7, 212||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8414|
|Tyrrell Pigrome||5'11, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8477|
|Max Bortenschlager||6'3, 185||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8113|
|Perry Hills||QB||6'2, 210||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8540||92||639||3||6.9||7.2||47.8%||5||2|
|Wes Brown||RB||6'0, 210||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9374||71||317||3||4.5||3.4||38.0%||1||1|
|RB||6'2, 223||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8898||47||185||3||3.9||4.7||29.8%||0||0|
|Ty Johnson||RB||5'10, 184||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8569||35||250||3||7.1||9.0||40.0%||0||0|
|Caleb Rowe||QB||6'3, 220||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8475||20||158||0||7.9||8.7||55.0%||3||0|
|William Likely||DB||5'7, 175||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8856||11||93||0||8.5||8.6||54.5%||3||1|
|Kenneth Goins Jr.||FB||5'9, 233||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8471||9||60||1||6.7||18.1||22.2%||0||0|
|Laderrien Wilson||RB||5'11, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8387|
|Jake Funk||RB||5'11, 197||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8282|
|Tyrek Tisdale||RB||6'1, 199||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8590|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Levern Jacobs||WR||5'11, 188||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8089||62||35||425||56.5%||17.7%||6.9||64.5%||38.7%||1.64|
|Taivon Jacobs||WR||5'9, 165||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8444||49||21||264||42.9%||14.0%||5.4||55.1%||32.7%||1.59|
|D.J. Moore||WR||5'11, 205||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8872||48||25||357||52.1%||13.7%||7.4||56.3%||41.7%||1.74|
|Avery Edwards||TE||6'4, 234||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8625||28||14||115||50.0%||8.0%||4.1||39.3%||25.0%||1.51|
|Jahrvis Davenport||WR||5'9, 193||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8311||27||11||154||40.7%||7.7%||5.7||63.0%||33.3%||1.72|
|Malcolm Culmer||WR||5'11, 185||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8207||25||15||221||60.0%||7.1%||8.8||68.0%||52.0%||1.58|
|Wes Brown||RB||6'0, 210||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9374||22||13||89||59.1%||6.3%||4.0||50.0%||22.7%||1.53|
|DeAndre Lane||WR||5'7, 175||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7820||11||9||152||81.8%||3.1%||13.8||72.7%||63.6%||2.05|
|William Likely||DB||5'7, 175||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8856||7||5||17||71.4%||2.0%||2.4||85.7%||28.6%||0.86|
|Kenneth Goins Jr.||FB||5'9, 233||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8471||5||2||14||40.0%||1.4%||2.8||60.0%||40.0%||0.42|
|Derrick Hayward||TE||6'5, 240||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8458||4||2||10||50.0%||1.1%||2.5||75.0%||0.0%||0.00|
|Andrew Isaacs||TE||6'2, 240||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8621|
|Michael Cornwell||WR||6'2, 215||So.||NR||NR|
|Tino Ellis||WR||6'1, 185||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9027|
|DJ Turner||WR||5'9, 196||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8829|
4. Unique shapes and sizes
Losing Ross hurts; he wasn't amazingly efficient, but he was one of the country's more explosive backs when he found open-field opportunities. Senior Wes Brown, meanwhile, has shown nothing close to Ross' jets.
But between Brown and Virginia Tech graduate transfer Trey Edmunds, Maryland should be able to find a solid efficiency option to complement the explosive QB of choice, and though he's on the small side, sophomore Ty Johnson could eventually turn into a well-rounded back. He didn't get many opportunities in 2015, but in 12 carries in the first and last games of the year, he gained a combined 170 yards. Plus, Maryland signed three freshman backs in February. The Terps have more than enough backs.
The receiving corps is pretty well-manned, too, though obviously having a quarterback to get them the ball could still be an issue. The Jacobs brothers (Levern and Taivon) combined for 689 receiving yards last year, and Levern averaged a healthy 9 yards per target back in 2013. Plus, former four-star recruit D.J. Moore is now a sophomore, two more four-star freshmen (Tino Ellis and DJ Turner) join the mix, and Maryland recently added another graduate transfer, NMSU's leading receiver Teldrick Morgan.
Big running backs, little receivers ... this skill corps is unique and could be pretty effective in the right hands.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Michael Dunn||LT||6'5, 312||Sr.||NR||NR||12||38|
|Damian Prince||RT||6'3, 328||So.||5 stars (6.1)||0.9858||6||6|
|Mike Minter||LG||6'3, 305||Jr.||NR||NR||3||3|
|Maurice Shelton||RG||6'3, 304||Sr.||NR||NR||2||2|
|JaJuan Dulaney||LG||6'3, 302||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8432||0||0|
|Brendan Moore||C||6'3, 295||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8210||0||0|
|Derwin Gray||RT||6'5, 328||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9250||0||0|
|Quarvez Boulware||LG||6'2, 304||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9039|
|EJ Donahue||OL||6'3, 320||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8867|
|Ellis McKennie||OL||6'3, 315||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8358|
|Will McClain||LT||6'5, 305||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8292|
|Terrance Davis||OL||6'3, 320||Fr.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9628|
|Richard Merritt||OL||6'4, 338||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8969|
5. The line will be fantastic ... at some point
From a pure star ratings perspective, only blue-bloods have recruited as well as Maryland up front. The Terps will boast one former five-star recruit and four former four-stars this fall. The problem: this quintet is made up of two sophomores, a redshirt freshmen, and two true freshmen. Only one of the five has ever started a game (five-star Damian Prince started half the year at right tackle in 2015). Meanwhile, of the 49 career starts returning on this line, 43 belong to former walk-ons.
I have absolutely no idea what to make of this line. It did pretty well last year despite the walk-ons, ranking 22nd in Adj. Line Yards (though dismal in short-yardage) and 52nd in Adj. Sack Rate. But three starters are gone, and the two-deep is going to be flush with redshirt freshmen and/or true freshmen. The ceiling is high, but most of the ceiling comes from guys who might still be too young to reach that ceiling.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||42.7%||79||Succ. Rt. +||108.1||39|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||30.5||51||Off. FP+||33.7||7|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.6||79||Redzone S&P+||105.6||44|
|Q1 Rk||76||1st Down Rk||57|
|Q2 Rk||54||2nd Down Rk||66|
|Q3 Rk||48||3rd Down Rk||42|
6. A Durkin-Buh defense
Durkin and Andy Buh were together on Harbaugh's original Stanford coaching staff. When Durkin left for Florida, Buh left to take the Nevada defensive coordinator job; Nevada ranked 107th in Def. S&P+ the year before he arrived and was 114th the year after he left, but in his two years in Reno, the Wolf Pack ranked 65th and 67th.
After a year at Wisconsin, Buh got what seemed to be a big break by getting the Cal defensive coordinator job. But an already young Cal defense got obliterated by injury and crumbled to 114th in Def. S&P+. He was reassigned in 2014, then left, then eventually took a job as a position assistant at Kentucky last year.
Buh wasn't Durkin's first choice as defensive coordinator, but when Scott Shafer (another Stanford '07er) stepped down for personal reasons after just a few weeks on the job, Durkin sought out a steady hand.
Buh's résumé took a hit with the Cal experience, but he's still been excellent for two of his three years as a defensive coordinator, and he probably has an excellent understanding of the attacking principles Durkin pursues.
Durkin wants you to go off-script, and until the defensive line gave out in November, his 2015 Michigan defense was a work of art. To move the ball, opponents had to throw on standard downs, run on passing downs, and hope to crack a big play at some point. And he has the pieces of what could be an excellent run defense.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Roman Braglio||DE||6'2, 262||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8485||11||27.5||3.9%||5.5||3.0||0||1||1||1|
|Azubuike Ukandu||DT||6'0, 307||Sr.||NR||NR||11||19.5||2.7%||7.0||3.0||0||0||1||0|
|Jesse Aniebonam||DE||6'3, 260||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9404||12||18.5||2.6%||6.5||3.5||0||1||0||0|
|Kingsley Opara||DT||6'3, 305||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8417||11||12.0||1.7%||0.5||0.5||0||0||0||0|
|Chandler Burkett||DE||6'3, 240||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8058||8||6.0||0.8%||2.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Cavon Walker||DE||6'2, 260||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8209||10||6.0||0.8%||0.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|David Shaw||DT||6'4, 307||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7984||4||5.0||0.7%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Brett Kulka||DE||6'4, 254||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7830||11||3.0||0.4%||1.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Malik Jones||DT||6'4, 275||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8126|
|Oseh Saine||DT||6'2, 286||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8700|
|Keiron Howard||DT||6'3, 289||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8472|
|Adam McLean||DT||6'2, 313||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9419|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jermaine Carter, Jr.||ILB||6'0, 240||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8185||12||84.5||11.9%||14.0||0.0||0||3||0||0|
|Jalen Brooks||OLB||6'1, 232||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8156||12||48.0||6.8%||1.0||0.0||2||1||1||0|
|Brett Zanotto||OLB||5'10, 220||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8407||10||18.0||2.5%||1.0||0.5||0||0||0||0|
|Denzel Conyers||OLB||6'3, 212||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8430||9||12.0||1.7%||2.0||1.0||0||3||1||0|
|Tyler Burke||ILB||6'3, 245||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8363||12||7.0||1.0%||1.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Mbi Tanyi||OLB||6'1, 280||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8270||7||4.0||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Shane Cockerille||OLB||6'2, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8659|
|Gus Little||ILB||6'2, 235||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8489|
|Isaiah Davis||ILB||6'1, 225||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8215|
|Brett Shepherd||LB||6'4, 215||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8423|
7. Run defense should be a strength
In Jermaine Carter Jr., Maryland has one of the only players in the country to log 14 non-sack tackles for loss last year. The Terps have good size in the middle -- Azubuike Ukandu, Kingsley Opara, David Shaw, and incoming four-star freshman Adam McLean all top 300 pounds -- and a couple of ends (Roman Braglio and Jesse Aniebonam) who might thrive in larger roles. Maryland ranked 33rd in Rushing S&P+ last year and returns a lot of the reasons for that.
The main issue with the front seven: Only two players recorded at least four sacks, and they're both gone. Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson were outstanding (27 TFLs, 19.5 sacks) and were the primary reasons why Maryland was 14th in Adj. Sack Rate. Braglio, Aniebonam, and junior Chandler Burkett could get there, but Ngakoue and Jefferson were there. And this was a pretty awful pass defense even with a great pass rush.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Will Likely||CB||5'7, 175||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8856||11||39.5||5.6%||4||0||0||11||3||0|
|Alvin Hill||CB||6'0, 200||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8125||12||15.5||2.2%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Darnell Savage, Jr.||CB||5'10, 192||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8435||10||11.5||1.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jarrett Ross||S||5'9, 198||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8382||11||9.5||1.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh Woods||S||6'1, 202||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8495||6||3.0||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|J.T. Ventura||CB||6'1, 205||Jr.||NR||NR||4||1.5||0.2%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Denzel Conyers||S||6'3, 212||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8430|
|Tehuti Miles||S||5'10, 210||Sr.||NR||NR|
|Milan Collins||S||6'1, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8354|
|Antwaine Carter||CB||6'1, 190||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7556|
|Lorenzo Harrison||CB||5'8, 188||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8486|
|Antwaine Richardson||CB||6'0, 168||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8472|
|Elijah Daniels||S||6'0, 186||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8466|
8. Pass defense probably won't be a strength
The good news, as it were: There are quite a few seniors in the secondary. The level of experience is solid.
The bad news: Most of these seniors weren't good enough to see the field for a bad secondary last year. Edsall and company basically played four DBs last year, with a couple of other corners in occasional reserve. And now three of the four regulars are gone.
Maryland does have Will Likely, a wonderful play-maker, for one more year. Over the last two years, he has compiled eight tackles for loss, six interceptions, 20 break-ups, and four forced fumbles. But in terms of known quantities, that's about it. Jarrett Ross is the most seasoned returning safety, and he's made 12.5 tackles over the last two years. Even if we kindly assume an upgrade in defensive coaching, it's going to be hard for this pass defense to improve too much, especially if the pass rush wavers.
[Update: Former Florida corner J.C. Jackson transferred to Maryland after a year at junior college. He was a four-star recruit, and seems to have locked down a starting spot in camp.]
|Nicolas Pritchard||5'10, 220||So.||55||38.2||1||18||11||52.7%|
|Adam Greene||5'11, 185||Jr.||19||55.8||2||2||10.5%|
|Adam Greene||5'11, 185||Jr.||11-11||2-3||66.7%||1-2||50.0%|
|William Likely||KR||5'7, 175||Sr.||35||22.5||1|
|Ty Johnson||KR||5'10, 184||So.||5||25.0||0|
|William Likely||PR||5'7, 175||Sr.||23||18.2||2|
|Ty Johnson||PR||5'10, 184||So.||3||13.7||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||114|
|Field Goal Efficiency||82|
|Punt Return Success Rate||19|
|Kick Return Success Rate||77|
|Punt Success Rate||124|
|Kickoff Success Rate||93|
9. Freshman punters become sophomore punters
Likely is also a star in the return game, but even with him, Maryland's special teams unit graded out dismally in 2015, thanks mostly to shaky legs and shaky coverage. Nicolas Pritchard was shaky as a freshman, and Maryland ranked 125th in punting average; meanwhile, the Terps also ranked 97th in kick return average allowed. You're just wasting a good return man like Likely if you're allowing the same returns and field position bumps that Likely is providing you.
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|9-Sep||at Florida International||113||12.0||76%|
|17-Sep||at Central Florida||99||6.4||64%|
|8-Oct||at Penn State||28||-11.8||25%|
|Projected wins: 5.9|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-11.5% (86)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||47 / 41|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-18 / -5.9|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||-4.6|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||70% (93%, 46%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||3.8 (-0.8)|
10. A 4-0 start is on the table
Durkin has generated buzz with some recent recruiting successes. Again, there's no guarantee that he will retain any of the commitments he has secured, but it's a good start.
He'll need a good start on the field, too. Maryland is projected a borderline bowl team and is projected with at least 64 percent win probability in five games, but four of those five come in the first four games of the year.
A 4-0 start, combined with good recruiting, could generate all sorts of positive press. And going by the S&P+ probabilities, Maryland has about a 35 percent chance of hitting that 4-0 mark. But since the schedule gets brutal in a hurry, anything less than 4-0 would make securing a bowl bid a lot dicier. So not only does the quarterback position need to improve this year; it needs to have improved right out of the gates.
There's a lot to like about the Durkin hire. He checked a lot of boxes before he got the job, and he has done an outstanding job of generating summer buzz. But again, so did Mark Stoops. Building is tricky. We'll see if Durkin can continue to check boxes moving forward.